My current Top 5

My current Top 5

8/02/2011

Number 18: Meryl Streep as Joanna Kramer in "Kramer vs. Kramer" (Best Supporting Actress Ranking)

Not a lot of actresses were able to reach the top so fast as Meryl Streep – after an Emmy and a first Oscar nomination, she swept the national awards for the first time in her life for her role as Joanna Kramer in the courtroom drama Kramer vs. Kramer, a young wife and mother who leaves her family to discover herself and then later wants custody of her young son.

Right from the start, Meryl Streep shows how she perfectly she is always able to develop the technical parts of her characters – her broken face, her tears, her desperation are clearly visible when she wishes her son good-night before she leaves him. It’s clear that Joanna is not selfish when she leaves her family behind but instead sees it as the best solution for everyone because she realizes that she is close to a breakdown – the life she leads does not fulfill her anymore and her unhappiness has turned into a deep depression when she finally finds the will to leave. When she tells her husband Ted about her plans and talks with him in the hallway, Meryl Streep presents some of her most unaffected work – her desperation, her plea to let her go, her refusal to go back inside, the way she touches her wedding ring, everything is completely authentic and helps Meryl Streep to tell the audience all about her character in just a few short moments before she leaves the movie for a great deal of time.

When the character returns, Meryl Streep still shows her nervous sides but she reduced them to demonstrate that Joanna has truly found herself and is not the same woman she was when she left Ted and her son. Her scene with Dustin Hoffman in a little café is incredibly authentic as both actors portray a fake friendliness while slowly circling each other about their son.

 Later, Meryl Streep gets a lot of opportunities to demonstrate her ability to cry – during her monologue in the witness stand, after the session and later at the end. In all these scenes, Meryl Streep opens Joanna up more and more, finds new sides in her and lets the audience and the other characters understand her intentions better and better.  

Like her other Oscar-winning role in Sophie’s Choice, Joanna Kramer is not a very complex character and Meryl Streep follows the script with a performance that offers little surprises. But Meryl Streep always fills these limitations of her characters with so much detail, so much life and so much technical brilliance that the results are almost always glorious.

A strong and powerful performance that works as a great counterpart to the work by Dustin Hoffman.

6 comments:

hey deanie said...

She's good, I agree. But I really wish she won the year earlier for her spontaneous and affecting work in The Deer Hunter, one of my favorite supporting performances ever!

In terms of 79, I thought she was even better in Manhattan than in Kramer (I haven't seen Joe Tynan yet but I've heard she's brilliant there as well)!

Louis Morgan said...

She is indeed great, I agree.

Anonymous said...

I would've personally ranked this one a little higher. If anything, I think you DON'T see the technical side of Meryl here and instead see pure emotion. I think it's one of her finest seeing as it is so real and honest. The character itself is a little one dimensional, though

Anonymous said...

Wow, I thought this would be in the top 10, such a brilliant performance, even better and more natural than her performance in Sophie's Choice, her tears are some of my favorite ever recorded on film.

dinasztie said...

I agree, she's wonderful.

Nues20 said...

I think she is brilliant in this film and I would have maybe put this a bit higher up on the list.

Meryl was really brilliant in this film.

Was she outshone in this film by Dustin? No - she was very calm in this film and her performance was very internalized which is a lot harder to do than acting externally.

Meryl was Joanna Kramer in this film, when she was on the set Meryl was gone; Joanna was in.

Including the fact that she wrote the whole of Joanna's monologue in the court scenes...